Bear with me by Deb Eileen

I would like to start this harrowing tale of animal encounters by saying that I live in North Vancouver. This area is about 15 minutes from the downtown core of Vancouver. However, our home is about half way up a mountain, a mountain that we share with several woodland creatures.

We have two dogs, they are approximately the size of two jumbo Kleenex boxes. Their true size in no way affects how they perceive themselves. In their tiny dog minds, they are more the size of two large ponies. As far as they are concerned, they rule this ‘hood. They do not like sharing their yard with woodland creatures. Squirrels in particular drive them insane. It is clear to me that as puppies they were taunted by cruel and vicious squirrels. The mere hint of a bushy flickering tail is enough to cause them to hurl themselves against the fence in what I suspect they think looks very vicious. If they weren’t the kind of dogs that could be carried in a hand bag I am sure this would be true.

One fine day I heard them barking up a storm at the neighbors fence. I went out to beat them into silence. As I bent down I could peer through the slats of the fence. I saw a black form. My first thought was “oh, it’s our neighbor’s cat.” This was followed by my second thought “that cat sure looks awfully big.” Then all those years of watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom paid off and it occurred to me “that is no cat.”

I stood up. The bear stood up. We faced each other, very neighborly across the fence about six inches apart. For the record, bears have foul breath. The advice they give is if you encounter a bear you should back away slowly. They say you shouldn’t run, as prey runs, and you don’t want to put any ideas in their head. I’m sure this is great advice- I just didn’t follow it. I bent down, swooped a barking dog under each arm and ran full tilt into the house screaming like a junior high school girl at a BackStreet Boys concert.

The bear, very slowly, hauled himself up and over the fence. Then he sat down in my backyard eating the apples from my neighbor’s tree. He looked quite relaxed. I put a panicked call into animal control. Their advice. “Are you inside? You are? Ok, you should stay there.”

The dogs meanwhile continued to bark saying the dog equivalent of “Lemme out here. I can take him!”

What animal have you never wanted to see up close and personal?

10 Replies to “Bear with me by Deb Eileen”

  1. I haven’t experienced the “pleasure” of bear breath. Lucky you. Even luckier dogs, as they would have been little more than an appetizer.

    Bears are right up there for me with animals to fear … unfortunately, we have one (or more, since it’s a female so there are occasionally cubs) in our back yard area. She regularly raids our birdfeeders, if I’m stupid enough to leave them out, and our garden which really ticks me off. Thankfully, I’ve only ever seen her through the window.

    I don’t want to ever be in your shoes.

  2. I think I found a kindred spirit in you, Eileen! I too was face to face with a bear. I was five at the time and was camping with the family in Banff. Bears happen up there. Having lived through that encounter (I LOVED bears at the time so I didn’t think it was such the big deal my parents made it out to be) bears are more a curiosity for me still. The animal I wouldn’t want to meet up close and personal would be a cougar. I like cats, LOVE them, in fact, but a cougar? Their paws are the size of my head.

  3. Up close and personal with a wild animal…I don’t think so. Otoh, a few summers ago, a blue butterfly hovered and then lit on my arm for a few seconds before flying away. That was literally breathtaking!

  4. Tish- I thought you said I had the breath of a bear when I first read your comment.

    Rhona- it’s good to know you are living the experience with me. Melissa, I had no idea you had gotten up close and personal with a bear. Marianne- it is our apple trees that draw them in. They look cute from the inside of the house.

    Dad- you know I hate to run unless chased. And Jamie I heard a bobcat of some sort once, but I didn’t go out to get a better look.

    In Singapore there is a butterfly enclosure at the zoo- you would love it Larramie!

  5. We had a bear jump on our car when we did one of those “nature drives” through a park. Give me the car wash any day (if you need to find a way to thrill the kids while in the car). Whose idea was it to let cars and bears roam in the same space? Insanity. Seeing the car through the car window was freaky enough – and to smell its breath? You are so totally cool!

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